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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars opulent, musical, reliable performances, 22 May 2009
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Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Schubert: 3 Masses - Tantum Ergo - Offertorium (Audio CD)
These performances by tried and tested artistes are utterly dependable and present this attractive, open-hearted music, less well known than it deserves to be, in its best light. The sound is clear and well-balanced, all the distinguished soloists are good and Sawallisch's direction is as assured as you would expect. When you add to that the very low price of the two CDs, it is a real bargain and much to be recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Masterpieces From Schubert. When did he sleep?, 18 Mar 2010
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Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Schubert: 3 Masses - Tantum Ergo - Offertorium (Audio CD)
Schubert's later works tend to be greater, more profound and ambitious, than his adolescent stuff, so this twofer with the mature masses and one or two smaller items is the ideal purchase. Sawallisch conducts a wonderful team including DFD, Lucia Popp and Peter Schreier. For more detailed liner notes, you'll need to buy the complete sacred music box. I would have been grateful for more information, including the Latin/English words, and discs that weren't pink. But no matter.

These masses are the great religious compositions of the romantic era in music. They communicate a Beethovenian quest for faith in an era of doubt, a love of nature and of human society at its most brotherly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A revelation, 31 July 2013
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This review is from: Schubert: 3 Masses - Tantum Ergo - Offertorium (Audio CD)
If your experience of Schubert is his vast output of chamber music and songs, then listen to these masses. They are magnificent and equal the choral works of the other great composers of the time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Some sublime stuff here, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Schubert: 3 Masses - Tantum Ergo - Offertorium (Audio CD)
I was stimulated by a recent BBC programme on Requiems to collect those mentioned and have found them to be beautiful and satisfying (I have not yet listened to them all though).
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FAITH HOPE AND MUSIC, 1 Feb 2011
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DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Schubert: 3 Masses - Tantum Ergo - Offertorium (Audio CD)
This is such a distinguished and interesting set, and so attractively priced, that the rating has to be 5 stars despite some misgivings that I have about the first track of all and some later parts of the Mass in A flat. To get that out of the way, the solo voices are recorded disconcertingly close-to, socking it to us in a way that would have suited Verdi's Kyrie better than this one. The result does the singers, the soprano in particular, no favours by endowing them with a shrill and edgy tone. The problem is still there in the later ensembles, although I did not feel it so acutely, and it has vanished from the other masses and the two smaller works. Could this effect have been from deliberate choice? I hope not, but one never knows. It could also be my own feeling about it that is out step with general opinion, as well as the sense of discomfort that I have with the enunciation of Brigitte Fassbaender so near my ear and sounding as if she has a Kartoffel in her mouth.

Otherwise the singing is admirable. You would expect that from such a distinguished lineup of soloists, and it is wonderful to hear Lucia Popp in anything. The choir are excellent as well, and so, to complete this distribution of bouquets, are the orchestra under the marvellous direction of Sawallisch, instinct with lyricism, grace, beauty of sound and strength of line. The words are not provided, but that can't be much of a problem with such familiar texts, unless in the final Offertorium. This is another late effort of Schubert's, adjacent in Deutsch's catalogue to the Tantum Ergo on the previous track and perhaps intended for the same service. The singing is admirably clear (and you will not miss the gorgeous oboe solo), and at the first hearing I heard the Latin for `Give heed to the voice of my prayer' as the first words, plus `I shall pray to Thee' later on plus, if I recall, something fairly standard about glory. I made no further effort and I shall doubtless distinguish the full text (there's not much more of it) before long. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that when you've heard one Offertorium prayer you've heard them all. It's the music that counts, and with this kind of text we need to consider first how the composer adapts that to its solemn context before we can take a considered view on how the performers deal with what the composer gives them.

With some composers we can get a sense of their religious inclinations from their music. Bach's music from start to finish is for the greater glory of God and it breathes unquestioning trust. Handel was more worldly, but there is a similar core of unshakeable certainty in his religious works. From Verdi's great Kyrie what I detect behind the plea for mercy is `Is there anyone out there to hear this?' With Elgar I get the sense that he is trying to assure himself of what he desperately wishes to believe and that it's a matter of hope at least as much as of faith. With Beethoven's Missa Solemnis the impression may be something similar but less aspirational - more the message that he will make an act of faith, and hope for the best. `Faith' develops overtones in religious contexts that it does not have in ordinary speech. `Faith' is just a grand word for belief, and when we mention `believing' in our everyday conversation it can be subject to varying degrees of confidence but it is always less of a claim than `knowledge' would be. `We have but faith, we cannot know/ For knowledge is of things we see' says Tennyson, but the Tantum Ergo counters with `Let Faith stand forth to fill the void left by the senses.' In daily life we would not normally believe something without a reason for believing it, and I suppose that in religious matters people only believe blindly because of the enormous significance of the issues - many feel they have to adopt a view one way or another, whether their minds take them far with that or not.

Do any of those musical examples remind you of what you hear from this set? Myself, I have no impression here of anything like any of that. If it was there in the first place, the director must be suppressing it, but I think it was never there to suppress. Schubert was Catholic, just like Haydn, but when it comes to their masses I am reminded irreverently of the policy statement by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's press chief, `We don't do God.' Like much of Christianity, Catholicism was largely imposed by force, and adherence to its prospectus can't be taken as indicating much genuine belief. Nor can I think of anything in Schubert's biography that would let me attribute such faith to him, so I don't expect to find it in his religious compositions. As with Haydn, his masses have a suitable dignity about them, and they respond to their texts much as his Lieder respond to theirs, but it's really all about the music. Given that Schubert had, in my own opinion, the greatest purely musical gift that any man ever had, that will do me fine.

The A flat and E flat masses are big Missae Solemnes, the C major, written when he was 19, is on the scale of a Haydn mass. He can't be called guiltless of Tantum Ergos as Shaw said of Sullivan, but we can absolve him when the piece is as beautiful as this, likewise with the accompanying Offertorium. There is a brief but helpful liner note, and once we are past the solo voice sections in the A flat the recording is excellent, although 30 years old. As for the performers, probably full marks. Certainly as near as makes no difference so far as I am concerned.
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Schubert: 3 Masses - Tantum Ergo - Offertorium
Schubert: 3 Masses - Tantum Ergo - Offertorium by Wolfgang Sawallisch (Audio CD - 2007)
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